Politicians stand behind Army

ISLAMABAD The Parliamentarians unanimously put their weight behind the ongoing military operations against the militants in Swat and Malakand Division and made it loud and clear that the writ of the Government would be established at all costs. The national political leadership of the country was given a detailed in-camera briefing here at Prime Ministers House by the Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the operational aspects of the ongoing operations in Swat and Malakand Divison to flush out miscreants with minimum collateral damage. He also briefed the leaders of parliamentary parties on the efforts being made by the Armed Forces for the security and well being of the internally displaced persons. The briefing could be divided into two parts: first, pertained to the ongoing military operation in the troubled area while the second covered the problems relating to IDPs and the ways and means to address them, a participant of the meeting disclosed to The Nation on condition of anonymity. During the briefing, which lasted for over six hours, most of the time was consumed by question-answer session. The Army Chief was assisted by Coordinator Special Support Group Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmad; DG-C ISI, Maj Gen Mohammad Zaheerul Islam and Director General Military Operations Maj Gen Javed Iqbal. Parliamentary leaders were of unanimous view that no one would be allowed to challenge the writ of the government adding that optimum facilities would be provided to people displaced from Swat during the course of operation. A source privy to the deliberations of the meeting informed that Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani informed the meeting that the security forces had gained control of many places and termed the operation 'highly successful. He further said that miscreants were on the run and fleeing to other areas. Regarding the casualties, the Army Chief said that normally in such type of operations, the casualties were on the higher side but they had adopted a strategy to successfully contain it. The sources further disclosed that the Army Chief had announced that Armed Forces of the country were fully capable to defend the motherland. The operation in the troubled areas, he said, was going on successfully. He expressed his resolve that militants would be flushed out of the area. Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani also briefed the political elite of the country about the steps being taken by the Army for the security and well being of the internally displaced people (IDPs) and admitted that much more efforts were required for provision of basic facilities to them in the camps. The political leaders present on the occasion expressed their will to establish the writ of the state, ensure the rule of law and carry forward the political process. They further recognized the role of the Armed Forces in the present situation and expressed their grief over the martyrdom of personnel of the security forces. The national political leadership also addressed the strategic questions regarding where, when and how many troops were deployed in each operation or sector, and that the operation was a Pakistani decision based on objective analysis and full understanding of threat posed by the militants. Some of the participants stressed the need for making indigenous policies instead of pursuing the international or US agenda with regard to the military action against the militants operating in various parts of the country. It was the unanimous view of the political and military leadership that the militancy was the major threat to the very fabric of the society and operation against these militants was in the larger interest of the country. The political and military leadership, while admitting that military action was the last resort, once again reiterated that all those who would lay down arms would be engaged in the dialogue process and all steps would be taken in the larger interest of the state. Earlier in his opening remarks, during in-camera briefing held at the Prime Minister House to give a detailed insight of the ongoing military operation in Swat and Malakand Division by Military leadership, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani called for incorporating political dimensions, following the military operation in Swat and some other parts of Malakand to eliminate the militants and terrorists, in order to bring lasting peace to the area. Prime Minister Gilani, in his opening remarks said the government resorted to the operation as it was left with no other option. The briefing was aimed at assessing the situation arising out of the operation that began after Prime Minister Gilanis address to the nation on May 7 in which he called out the army to eliminate the terrorists. Prime Minister Gilani said the armed forces were called to take stern action against the miscreants and were carrying on the operation with full commitment and high degree of professionalism. He expressed his gratitude to the political leadership for their continuous support and sagacious guidance from time to time. This in-camera meeting has been organized to take the political leadership of the country into confidence on the real situation and answer their questions on the necessity of army action in Swat and the issue of IDPs, Gilani said. The Prime Minister said Pakistan was at the crossroads of its history. The situation is not normal. Militants have threatened the very fabric of our society, by trying to impose their will through coercive measures. Gilani said the government had tried to resolve all issues democratically and peacefully and in pursuance of its policy of three Ds, under the peace agreement executed by the NWFP government and endorsed by the federal government. Unfortunately, our sincere efforts to bring peace in the area were taken as our weakness and instead of decommissioning themselves, as agreed, the militants started challenging the whole system of governance and stared spreading their influence to other parts of the country, he said. The Prime Minister said army operation was not a permanent solution to the problem. He said political dimensions need to be incorporated for guaranteeing lasting peace in these disturbed areas. As the government firmly believes that Parliament is sovereign body, therefore, taking Parliamentary leadership on board is very essential. I assure you that the input of todays meeting along with the suggestions and observations from the forthcoming APC will be incorporated in our national security policy to deal with the situation, the Prime Minister said. The briefing was attended by PML (N) Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif, Parliamentary Leader JUI(F), Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman; Chief Minister Punjab and President PML(N) Mian Shahbaz Sharif; Parliamentary Leader PML(Q) Ch Pervaiz Elahi; Parliamentary Leader MQM Dr Muhammad Farooq Sattar; Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali Khan; Parliamentary Leader PPP-(S) Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao; Parliamentary Leader FATA Haji Munir Khan Aurakzai; Parliamentary Leader BNP (Awami) in the Senate Mir Israr Ullah Zehri; Governor NWFP Owais Ahmad Ghani; Chief Minister NWFP Amir Haider Khan Hoti; Chief Whip National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah; ANP leader Muhammad Zahid Khan; Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Dr. Zaheeruddin Babar Awan; Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf; Chairman Parliamentary Committee on National Security Senator Mian Raza Rabbani; Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira; Minister of State for Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and PML(F) leader Pir Sadruddin Shah.

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